Thursday, 3/3/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/02" plug="thursday-3311" puzz="Fireball" anchor="fb"]9:22[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/02" plug="thursday-3311" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]4:04[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/02" plug="thursday-3311" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]5:45 (Neville)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/02" plug="thursday-3311" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/02" plug="thursday-3311" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]5:47 (Matt)/3:45 (Amy)[/time_hdr]

David Kahn’s New York Times crossword

3/3/11 NY Times crossword answers 0303

Huh. I have finished the puzzle successfully, but I don’t at all understand the theme. ANDREW JACKSON is “either of the two presidents who also served as a” U.S. SENATOR “from” TENNESSEE? Oh! I get it. You can also fill in 39a with ANDREW JOHNSON, and the ACK/OHN crossings work either way:

  • 37d. [Cotton __] can be BALLS or BOLLS.
  • 41d. [Captain James __ of the high seas] is HOOK or COOK. I didn’t know Captain Hook’s name, and Captain Cook was fresh in my mind after a recent LA Times CAPTAIN theme.
  • 33d. I thought [It's rich in sugar] was a weird clue for CAKE. It is. It works better for CANE.

So this is another CLINTON/BOB DOLE theme, but with just three letters changing out of a much longer theme entry. Very cool. Probably the niftiest way to make use of the “Andrew J–son” coincidence in the list of past presidents.

While some of the fill’s lackluster (e.g., RANEES, SST, ANTED, ERO, ALO as a [Santo Domingo greeting]!?!), there were also great entries and clues in this puzzle:

  • 14a. GO IT ALONE. Excellent three-word phrase.
  • 18a. [Come and go, e.g.] clues VERBS.
  • 32a. A six-letter Roman numeral is pushing it, but my husband’s always been a cycling fan so I kinda like this [Year the first Tour de France was held] bit. MCMIII is 1903.
  • 35a. Love the word APLOMB.
  • [Creature with a dewlap] makes me think of turkeys and water buffaloes and Andy Rooney more than an IGUANA, but there you have it.
  • 12d. [Language known to native speakers as "gjuho shqipe"] is ALBANIAN. Crazy orthography! Do you know how to pronounce that? I sure don’t. At least I do know that wildly implausible-looking (to an English speaker) letter combos with a Q suggest Albanian.
  • 13d. Can you TASTE IT?
  • 27d. TOM JOAD, great literary entry.

Patrick Berry’s Fireball crossword, “Duotone”

3/3/11 Fireball answers

I appreciated this puzzle for its outsized difficulty level—a rare treat for the devoted cruciverbal masochist—but didn’t particularly enjoy the solve. The title and theme relate to musical terms I don’t quite grasp. Maybe “Duotone” isn’t even musical, just the “tone” part of it? I don’t know. The rebus theme entries relate to this:

  • 62a. TWO-STEP, [Musical form celebrated by this puzzle?]

And each rebus entry has two successive musical notes (in the do, re, mi family) in rebus squares. These entries occupy symmetrical spots, but I wasn’t quite expecting TWO-STEP’s opposite grid spot to also have a rebus entry and that had me bollixed up. The rebus answers included things beyond my ken:

  • 17a. [Counter-drawing game] is OD{D O}{R E}VEN. That’s a game?? Do, re: the first two steps.
  • 18a. THE{RE}{MI}NS. Re, mi—the next pair after do, re, with the “re” repeated.
  • 19a. Joan Baez has a sister named MI{MI} {FA}RINA? Never, ever heard of her. Not once. My husband doesn’t know the name either. What is she doing in my crossword??
  • 33a. [Literally, "land of upright people"] clues BURKINA {FA}{SO}. Ooh. I like this one. I sort of figured out what the theme was doing with rebused notes by thinking of country names that fit a BUR*I— pattern. Geography for the win!
  • 42a. [Ones highly placed in power?] are {SO}{LA}R PANELS. Clever clue! The panels are up on the roof.
  • 56a. ESCA{LA}{TI}NG.
  • 60a. AN{TI}{DO}TAL. And this brings us back to “do.”

Add in 14 crossing Downs that also include these rebus squares and you have got yourself a fierce challenge.

Did you like it? Did it vex you mightily? Is your answer “yes” to both?

Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

3/3/11 LA Times crossword solution

Is it just me, or has the LA Times Thursday puzzle become a ground for non-standard themes? Just by looking at it, you might think that this puzzle is a themeless, but it’s not. Instead, we’ve got a dense theme featuring six ANAGRAM CROSSINGs. Including that identifying entry, that’s a total of 13 theme entries. I’m impressed!

  • 1a. [Orates] / 5d. [Anybody's guess] gives us SPOUTS/TOSS-UP. SPOUTS anagrams to TOSS-UP.  We’re all on the same page now, right?  Good.
  • 18a. [Sea cows] / 10d. [Arises] = MANATEES/EMANATES. These are both plural, but I won’t call foul.
  • 28a. [Noodles, say] / 24d. [Spanish appetizers] make PASTA/TAPAS. Double yum!
  • 48a. [Pole symbol] / 35d. [Sacred choral piece] are TOTEM/MOTET. I’m thankful that I sang in choirs throughout school, otherwise I likely would not know the word MOTET. Non-musicians, did you know that word from a source other than crosswords?
  • 61a. [Orchard grower] / 37d. [Comeback] turn out to be a PEAR TREE/REPARTEE. I think that this was the inspirational theme entry for Don, probably because it was my favorite of the lot.
  • 68a. [Word with health or illness] / 49d. [It's beneath the crust] round out the sextet with MENTAL/MANTLE. Clued together, [Baseball's Mickey goes nuts?]

Did you notice that these clues and entries don’t stick out at all? If it weren’t for the helper across the center of the grid, I think I would’ve missed the whole thing. Big ups for the symmetry, but I’m surprised we don’t have a few more Scrabbly letters thrown into the anagrams. That’s okay – no lackluster entries in the bunch if you ask me.

I thought it was cool that NEBRASKA crossed ALASKA. That feels like it could be a theme of its own, with states that end with the same four letters.  On the other hand, ARKANSAS/KANSAS wouldn’t be consistent, and CALIFORNIA/NARNIA isn’t really a pair of states. Don, I’ll leave fleshing out this theme to you.

Other fun entries include THE CAN, which isn’t just 13d: [Jail, in slang], ON CAMERA and REST EASY. (Mini-Contest: Use “rest hard” in a sentence.) And as the son of a graduate of the University of AlaBAMA, 7d: [The Tide] made breaking into the NE corner a piece of cake.

Not-so-welcome visitors in this grid include author Gay TALESE (whom I’ve never heard of), the ARAN [Sweater style named for Irish islands], crossword regular UTA Hagen and EES – that’s electrical engineers. In a league of her own, though, is HEDY Lamarr, who is not just [Actress Lamarr], but also [Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum inventor Lamarr]. The idea she pioneered is still used today in Wi-Fi networks. That’s pretty sweet, if you ask me, considering she got her patent in 1942.


Updated Wednesday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Icy Patches”—Janie’s review

As winter starts to wind down, hazardous “icy patches” may continue to dot the roads and sidewalks. So be careful. Today’s, however, need give you no cause to worry, and result (humorously, thank-you-very-much) from the addition of the letters “IC” to four familiar phrases (that’s right—no additional “I see” puns today…). Strong base-phrases and smile-making “afters” make for a great use of the gimmick. Behold:

  • 20A. panhandler → PANIC HANDLER [Banker during a run?]. And sometimes the result of a run is that the panic handler turns into the panhandler. Shades of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”
  • 29A. graph paper → GRAPHIC PAPER [Rag that reveals all?]. Funny concept here as those neat and tidy squares become subverted for the publication of messy affairs and altogether tmi.
  • 45A. organ donor → ORGANIC DONOR [Giver of naturally grown veggies to a food bank?]. Surely, this is a person to be admired before and after the “IC” treatment.
  • 53A. manservant → MANIC SERVANT [Butler on the wild side?]. A little like Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, perhaps… (‘Tisn’t Jack Gilford, but this’ll give you the idea.)

I do like as well the way grid opposites NO SCORE and BOER WAR rhyme (clued respectively as [Zero to zero] and [Turn-of-the-century South African conflict]). [Both Brownings] were POETS and I suspect even they would appreciate this coup de construction. Elizabeth appears to have written an ODE [Emotional dedication] or three, but they look to be of the unpublished variety. Too SAPPY [Extremely sentimental] perhaps? As for her beloved husband, the best I can do is offer a link to George Sterling’s “Ode on the Centenary of the Birth of Robert Browning.

Another nice piece of grid serendipity? Down there in the SW corner with the crossing of PUB [Building with drafts] (terrific clue, btw) and BEER [Canned beverage].

Back in the day, ANGIE [Dickinson of "Police Woman"] was a BIG NAME [It attracts an audience]. Her Rat Pack connections didn’t hurt none either. But then, well, I suppose you could call it BAD LUCK [Misfortune] Hollywood style. She AGED [Got on in life]. Actually, that’s rather a glib assessment. In fact she’s not been put to pasture professionally and at 79, like the trouper she is, continues to work. More power to her!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Say What?”—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ 311 answers 3/3/11

Do you know much about CHARLIE SHEEN (49-across)? I do, now: according to Wikipedia, he is both “the highest-paid actor on television” and “concurrently dating pornographic actress Bree Olson and model Natalie Kenly.” So far so good, but then you get a list of not-so-hot behaviors associated with drug and alcohol addiction and stretching back 20 years. In recent days he has apparently been giving off-the-wall interviews, which Brendan Quigley mines for today’s puzzle theme.

At 1-across we have “You can’t process me with a normal BRAIN,” a claim probably more worthy of BEQ than Sheen. Charlie then refers to himself as a WARLOCK at 38-across, and to Thomas Jefferson as a…well, see 59-across to find out. Is Sheen immortal? Perhaps, since at 69-across he claims that “DYING is for fools. Amateurs.” And at 61-across that he possesses an army of ASSASSINS. There are more scattered around the grid, see if you can find them all! I did since this was an easy puzzle — took me 5:47 to solve. Although I haven’t kept up with Sheen’s behavior too closely, I was aware through media osmosis that something was going on, and it was fun trying to guess the words missing from the quotes.

Fun BEQ fill, as usual: THE MIC, IT’S BEEN FUN, SO SAD, OPRAH, RAY-BAN, ANDAMAN SEA, palindromic HANNAH and PCP, ROSEMARY, PLAY ME, and WII (nicely clued as [It makes people shake their fists at their TV]).

Other noteworthy clues:

  • 52-d [James Franco and Anne Hathaway, for the 2011 Oscars] is HOSTS. Timely.
  • 60-d [Bing result] for URL.
  • 65-a [Backstabber] for RAT.
  • 29-d [Salad slice] for RADISH.

Thanks for the puzzle BEQ, and have a decent Thursday everyone! Even you, Charlie.

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34 Responses to Thursday, 3/3/11

  1. pannonica says:

    Technoquibble: NYT 60a: Gilbert Adair translated Georges Perec’s lipogrammatic La Disparation as A Void and—considering the constraints—that achievement was at least as difficult as authoring the original. Translators’ contributions are generally underappreciated, so I can understand that some might want to highlight Adair’s herculean effort and success, but calling him “author” without acknowledging Perec just isn’t correct.

  2. AcrossLIte only likes ANDREW JOHNSON for 39A. ANDREW JACKSON does not get you Mr. Happy Pencil. Very cool though!

    Loved TOM JOAD.

  3. ===Dan says:

    Indeed, it’s Perec’s name alone that appears on the spine of the English language version. His name appears above the title on the front cover, and Adair gets translation credit underneath.

    The Tour de France was the subject of the second multiple-answer NYT puzzle; I wonder whether its appearance today is a complete coincidence. http://www.xwordinfo.com/Schizo

  4. Howard B says:

    With you on the Fireball – I loved the theme execution, but had a hell of a time with the theme answers.

    On the NY Times, as I’m weak with history in general, I entered JOHNSON in confidently early on in the solve off the J (which I did know), and didn’t realize the double-theme until the explanation here. I never would have known it otherwise – shame on me. Now I appreciate the art of it. Thanks!

  5. Bill from NJ says:

    Re; Mimi Farina

    Why was the second MI the only one considered for the rebus? I realize it didn’t fit the pattern but it sure was confusing to me

  6. mamajulie says:

    I hit the same snag as retired_chemist in the Applet. Mr. Happy Pencil would not come up until I changed Jackson to Johnson. Should have realized “either of” was a vital part of the clue.

  7. janie says:

    MIMI FARINA comes straight out of the 60s-era-dylan-playbook; married to counter-culture musician and author richard farina (been down so long it looks like up to me), and kinda iconic in her own right.

    but like bill, distracted by the musical syllables that weren’t rebusized: {so}REs, en{ti}RE, a{DO}{RE}s (which fits the theme pattern…)… and while i’m familiar with the concept of musical “steps” when talking about intervals — i’m unfamiliar with TWO-STEP as a “form” of the same (except as a ballroom dance or process descriptor). in music, it’s an adjective describing “interval,” if not a form per se—in my experience anyway. none of this stopped me from enjoying the solve, however, and appreciating THE{RE}{MI}NS, BURKINO {FA}{SO} and {SO}{LA}R PANELS especially. not to mention the symmetric placement of the rebus squares. with this theme, that’s a pretty tall order in itself.

    HEDY caught my attention in the cool lat, too, as her non-cinematic accomplishments were recently cited in this article that focuses on natalie portman’s scientific bent.

    and thumbs up for the kahn klassic. sooooo much peppy (long) fill to go along with that nifty construction.

    one good puzzle day, eh?

    ;-)

  8. John E says:

    In the NYT applet, I entered two letters for each of the overlap squares in 39A and got a successful completion – they must have programmed it somehow to accept multiple answers.

    Overall, I liked the puzzle – struggled with the NW for much too long, having INCHES for 2D and not wanting to get rid of it (even though IGUANA felt right for 1D).

  9. john farmer says:

    If you know Mimi Fariña, you may remember Suze Rotolo.

    Really enjoyed the puzzles today. I already had ___JOHNSON when I got to the “Either of…” clue. I thought, perhaps, we’d see an ANDREW/LYNDON answer dupe. Maybe next time. I finished the rest of the puzzle before seeing that JACKSON worked too.

    I believe “gjuho shqipe” in Albanian is pronounced “fish.”

  10. ethan says:

    terrific puzzle. the double-crossing ones are great as rare treats.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Too many almost great puzzles with fatal flaws for me today. NYT cluing just bugged me; too cute at times. And until now, I didn’t understand ROYAL TIES (and you thought my misparsings were jokes).

    Fireball – I refused to put MI-MI because I didn’t think a Berry/Gordon puzzle would ruin a theme answer like that.

    And I’m bitter that Neville is doing a great job on the LA Times. And the CS was ICky.

    And I solved the BEQ without trouble and that never happens. Look for Ted McGinley on two and a half men next year.

    And I bet some answer was stolen from somewhere else.

    And what was in my coffee this morning?

    gjuho shqipe!

    [20 minutes later - um, what's with me today? I'm calm now. It appears doing too many puzzles in one month can impact your MANTLE health.]

  12. David H says:

    I wonder where this (NYT) has been done before, besides the Clinton/BobDole one? It’s a great theme, IMO. I think I like it because it got me thinking about American History, and George Bush/George Bush, Roosevelt, Adams, Harrison, Johnson … etc. One of my ancestors was a friend of Jacksons, and was appointed to the Supreme Court by him – though he besmirched the family name by voting the wrong way on the Dredd Scott decision.

    I was thrown off by CANE and CAKE; my first answer was CUBA.

  13. joon says:

    david h, if you click on ===dan’s link to “schizo” puzzles on xwordinfo, you can see all of them. or at least the ones in the NYT. off the top of my head, i can think of two others: the kevin wald 2008 election day puzzle in the sun, and BEQ’s super bowl XLIV prediction.

    i liked patrick’s puzzle a lot. the non-rebused notes don’t bother me, because a close reading of the theme reveals that the rebuses only go in adjacent pairs of squares. hence TWO-STEPS. and janie, i think you’re reading too much into TWO-STEP; the thematic part of the clue does get a ?, because it’s a play on words. a TWO-STEP is a dance, which is a musical form, but you can also interpret it punnily as a pair of adjacent notes, which is the theme of the puzzle. in a similar vein, “duotone” has nothing to do with music in its surface sense but can be understood in the context of the puzzle. anyway, i had no clue on ODD OR EVEN or MIMI FARINA, which made the NW really tough, but once i figured it out and noticed the symmetry, i was able to crack it. neat.

    both BEQ’s puzzle and MG’s writeup made me laugh. especially: At 1-across we have “You can’t process me with a normal BRAIN,” a claim probably more worthy of BEQ than Sheen. surely doing the sheen/qaddafi/beck quiz that amy linked yesterday gave me an advantage on this one, even if i couldn’t remember which ones were by charlie.

  14. janie says:

    >you can also interpret it punnily as a pair of adjacent notes, which is the theme of the puzzle.

    but apparently i don’t. ;-) might be able to more easily but for the clue. and so it goes.

    but, hey — me overthink? shocker!

    ;-)

  15. Daniel Myers says:

    Pannonica – as usual – is spot-on. As someone who has read Perec’s book in both in the original French (La Disparition) and English, calling English translator Adair the AUTHOR is simply not on at all.

  16. Neville says:

    Jeffrey – I learned my LAT blogging skills from the best :)

  17. Mary says:

    Loved the BEQ! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much during a puzzle.

  18. john farmer says:

    One other puzzle to add the “schizo” list: the CS Election Day puzzle of 2000.

    Constructor Bob Klahn
    Date Tue, Nov 07, 2000
    PREDICTION 10 23-, 53-, and 59-Across, e.g.
    VOTERSOFAMERICA 15 See 18-Across
    AGREEUPONXXXXAS 15 See 18-Across
    HEADHONCHO 10 See 18-Across

    XXXX = BUSH or GORE

    (Judging by the aftermath, maybe not such a great “prediction.”)

  19. Gareth says:

    13:19

    NYT: Just learned that rabbits have dewlaps. How did I not notice? You all noticed? Was thinking about that instead of iguanas… nit: Do they have other types of senators for TENNESSEE? I agree with Jeffrey, the cluing bugged me too.

    LAT: Not sure why, but I liked the answers AZIMUTHS and MANTLE a lot!

    Also: entered YALE twice today and was wrong twice: NAVY and BAMA you say!

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Gareth: Rabbits have dewlaps?? I had no idea. Each state in the U.S. has its own legislature in addition to sending two senators and a varying number of representatives to the Congress in Washington, D.C. In each local legislature in the state capitals, there is a different batch of senators and representatives.

  21. Martin says:

    According to wikipedia, the native name for Albania, Shqipëria, derives “from the adverb shqip, which means ‘understanding each-other.’” In other words, in Albanian, Albania means “land of the weird language.”

  22. Brian says:

    Fireball…

    As Janie so clearly delineated, I hated the re-use of musical syllables that weren’t part of theme entries, especially ADORES and MIMI. Especially ADORES. I mean — that one has the same theme gimmick in it and everything.

    As for the theme gimmick — a two-step is a DANCE, it has nothing to do with musical notes. Two steps in a musical scale are not a two-step. This is just random terminology, as far as the theme is concerned.

    Furthermore, a step (in music) is an interval between two notes. DO-RE is ONE step, not two. The space between DO and RE is a step. And unfortunately for the theme, the interval between MI and FA is a HALF STEP. So this has accuracy problems all over it.

    Finally, and perhaps trivially, the fifth note in the scale is SOL, not SO. Everywhere I’ve seen it, at least. Perhaps some call it SO, but do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do. That’s the scale.

    Maybe if ONE of these issues existed, I’d give it a pass. But Patrick and Peter are GENIUSES who make BRILLIANT puzzles all the time. The standard (in my mind) is extremely high, and this puzzle disappointed.

  23. joon says:

    oh, cranky brian is fun. i miss the R&B blog.

    to address only the most trivial of your nits, “SOL, a needle pulling thread” makes much less sense than “SO, a needle pulling thread,” even in julie andrews’s charming english accent (which makes fa/far much closer). hammerstein also rhymed “a note to follow SO” with “that will bring us back to DO.” i’ll defer to the music professor on which version is more commonly seen, but it’s definitely true that both are used. and that song is undoubtedly the single best-known instance of solfege.

    ADORES is a bigger problem, i’ll grant you.

  24. Martin says:

    “Sol” is historically correct and invariably used in countries that speak Romance languages. “So” is widely used in other countries. Both are equally used correct in English-speaking countries. “Sol” would not work at all in Japan, where it’s exclusively “so.”

    By the way, the seventh note was historically “si,” so your ice is pretty thin.

  25. sandirhodes says:

    WOO-HOO!!! Go Jan!!!

  26. Neville says:

    I too miss cranky Brian. I learned Solfege with SO, not SOL. It was a few years before I had a WTF moment when I saw SOL. I’ll have to check my collegiate sightsinging book sometime, but I think it had SO. I mean, SOL is fine, but SO is elegant.

    That’s okay, though, because I loved BEQ’s puzzle. LOVED.

  27. John Haber says:

    I actually entered “Perec” as a gimme, so that mistake was annoying. I’ve read his book and loved it, although I’m actually even more amazed at Adair’s feat of translation, since not only is the letter E so common in English (say, the literal translation involves the word “Disappearance”) but also that we’ve only the word “the,” rather than “le” and “la,” whereas Perec could pull off (amazingly) only feminine nouns (as in the title) when he needed a definitely article. (On the other hand, we have only the indefinite articles “a” and “an,” where theirs include “une.”)

    I did get stuck on the theme. My first thought was “bales” of cotton, and not knowing Spanish greetings, I then wondered what “boles” were. In fact, needed a dictionary to know what BOLLS were. Not totally satisfying.

  28. Zulema says:

    Janie,

    Thanks for knowing Mimi Farina. Joan Baez’s sister, she died many years ago; Rotolo just this week. I was totally confused by the M I MI and even more by the RAVI answer to “musical colleague of Yehudi.” I was looking for a violinist in vain.

    Haber, not heard of BOLL WEEVILS?

  29. pannonica says:

    Random synapse action:

    • “Boll Weevil Blues,” I know the Bessie Smith version from an old Columbia double LP compilation (Empress of the Blues, vol. __ )
    • As long as we’re liking on Perec, fat book recommendation of the week (month?) is now Life: A User’s Manual.

    By the way, which puzzle was it that had ASCENT for ASSENT? It’s one of those, perhaps AV or Inkwell, that’s available days before being blogged here. That one gave me the grrrs. Apologies if I’ve jumped the gun.

  30. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Pannonica, it was the Onion A.V. Club puzzle, blogged in the Wednesday post. The ascent/assent mixup was in a clue, but Ben later e-mailed a corrected copy.

  31. pannonica says:

    Thanks Amy. I ignored the second e-mail, so it’s my own fault for complaining. Sorry, everyone.

    and… addendum for the nitpickity: “Boweavil Blues” on Empty Bed Blues [Columbia G30450M], 1971.

  32. janie says:

    zulema — your comment led me to google the two of them and — d’oh — seems that yehudi and ravi performed in concert many times and produced an album together in (yes) the mid-’60s that’s been re-issued on cd.

    thx for sending me in that direction!

    ;-)

  33. Zulema says:

    Janie, I was too tired last night to check, but I began to wonder if some such had been the case. Thanks again.

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